It’s really happening. Our family has been accepted to foster a service dog. We don’t know who he is yet because he hasn’t been born but his life will have a purpose; to enhance the independence and quality-of-life of a person with a disability.
This autumn I will begin fostering a Labrador or Golden Retriever who will go on to special training at Le Copain in the Valais. Assuming he graduates, he will become an assistant to a person with a physical handicap, an alarm for a person with a seizure disorder, or a teaching companion to a person with autism.
As a foster puppy raiser, my purpose is to teach him basic obedience (along with the other foster trainers in the program) and to expose him to a wide range of experiences and environments that he may face with his future partner. That means he will come everywhere with me. Once he is 14 to 16 months old, he will leave my home to go to Le Copain for his 6-month formal training.
Pets are not allowed in many places. Since this future puppy will be a service dog, not a pet, special allowances are made. But he and I have rules we must follow, too. He will always be with me. I cannot leave him more than an hour by himself. When he is wearing his Learner vest, he will be working. That means he should not be petted by anyone other than me. So should you ever come across me or another dog in the city with a working vest, you can always take a moment to talk and ask to pet the dog.
If you have ever considered becoming a foster family for a service dog, watch for my next blog that will explain why these dogs are needed as well as the commitment and training involved in becoming a puppy trainer. Le Copain is looking for motivated volunteers and donors.
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/